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Apps Aren’t Just For Smartphones Any More

As smart technology permeates our society, powering our wearables, homes, cars, and other IoT devices, apps to drive are also on the rise.  In fact, a recent report by VisionMobile said that out of the 4.5 million people identified as IoT developers in 2015, 1.4 million were focused on smart home apps. According to VisionMobile’s IoT Megatrends 2016 report, there are seven distinct IoT areas that app developers work in—smart home, retail, industrial, wearables, smart city, medical and connected car—with the opportunities offered by connected homes a clear favorite. Retail IoT apps, wearables and industrial versions attract around one million app developers each, while the connected car is of interest to 700,000 people. People have become used to the concept of IoT and recent research by Gartner said that there could be as many as 700 million smart homes by 2020. With smartphones and tablets working as remote controls for connected devices, there will be a tremendous need for new apps to drive them. And according to IDC Research, 101.9 million wearable devices were shipped in 2016, a 29 percent increase over 2015.The rise of smart wearables like the Apple Watch and Microsoft’s Hololens demonstrate the rise of new opportunities for app developers and vendors to provide connected apps. "The trajectory of the wearables market signals a strong opportunity for developers," Llamas continued. "Applications increase the value and utility of a wearable, and users want to see more than just their health and fitness results. News, weather, sports, social media, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications will all have a place on a wearable. And, when combined with cellular connectivity, users will not have to take out their smartphones to get the latest information. All they will need to do is glance at their wearable." App Trends for Leveraging Smart Devices This year sees a huge opportunity to leverage this new smart space. We have gathered a list of some of the top mobile app development trends to watch in 2017. Continued rise of Location-based services (LBS). GPS availability and ease of use means that location-based services will continue to evolve to provide real-time information or deals based on user locations. LBS is particularly useful for indoor mapping, location-specific payment portals, retail offers, security features, navigation, travel and tourism, and more.  When combined with mobile apps, LBS can enable a new generation of personalized services and information. AppSheet also ready includes LBS in many of its offerings, like Site Scout, an app for construction site inspections. Integration of Augmented Reality (AR) into utility apps. In its early stages, the use of AR was seen as a gimmick, but it has grown into its own more recently with the addition of wearables. AR tools can now be used more effectively and productively than ever before. Word or phrase recognition can be used in messenger apps to pull up appropriate actions, and integrations like social media syncing, location tracking, and product links can also be leveraged with AR. A number of retailers are already integrating augmented reality into their mobile apps to help shoppers visualize furniture and décor in their homes at full-scale before making a purchase. The rise of “run-only-as-you-need” apps. Android’s new Instant Apps feature allows apps to run instantly, a trend which will become more appealing and widespread. These enabled apps don’t have to be downloaded or installed and can run with just a single tap, saving data and memory space on the device. The “run-only-as-you-need” concept is poised to fundamentally transform the app industry. And while these apps are usually preview versions lacking some advanced features, they do provide quick insight and experience. The normalization of embedded AI within apps. As embedded AI becomes more standard, it will also transform the industry. Self-learning apps have the potential to customize what they display to users based on personal preferences or location-based data, and they could soon be found in everyday devices like phones, cameras, and IoT devices. Continued dominance of IoT app integrations. The IoT industry is booming, leading to the rise of apps that cater to IoT integration. Data analytics will also be central to this trend, in order to allow easy and efficient access to stored and shared data. App security becomes paramount. As smartphones become more versatile and handle larger amounts of sensitive data, security will become increasingly crucial as well. That means that apps with built-in security features will be highly successful, helping to guarantee the protection of user data. According to Gartner, in 2017 75 percent of mobile app security breaches will be caused by misconfigurations, which means that mobile app security is essential when building apps for the IoT. Focus On Optimal User Experience The most important feature of apps in 2017, however – whether for smartphones or other smart applications – will be a premium and smooth user experience. One aspect that guarantees success is the use of rich media that help transform apps into better and more memorable tools.  Through effective display of data and content on your mobile user interface, you can help guarantee a positive user experience. The most successful apps will exploit technologies with novel features like interactive content layers; circular design patterns, cards, and manipulation of content to create an augmented reality that allows users to interact with content in further detail. From LBS to AR and beyond, AppSheet has a wide range of tools to help you create the smart apps for your business to connect with your customers and their devices.

4 Ways to Cut IT Costs by Making Your Own Apps

Regardless if your IT department is in-house or outsourced, technology is a vital part of any modern day business. If your website, computer network or apps go awry, your business will instantly come to a standstill. It’s no wonder that in a recent survey involving 1,121 IT pros across various sectors, it was reported that the average IT budget was $253,389. The average IT spending per employee ranged from $2,770 for small businesses with 19 or fewer employees to $698 for large companies with over 500 employees (average $1,526). As a business owner or manager, you know what a big investment good tech support is, but are there ways to decrease this large expense? After all, you may be restructuring your budget for the New Year with considerations like determining where money is possibly being wasted and if there are lower cost options for expensive services. Did you know that spreadsheet-based apps can help you to lower IT costs? 1. IT Efficiency A computer will crash. Programs will have bugs in them. There’s a good chance your network may get hacked. But like many things in life, time is money and time wasted is money wasted. An IT ticketing and issue tracking system app ensures that there is a protocol in place for the requests coming in and that the most urgent problems can rise to the forefront of IT’s attention. When a mobile form is constructed with the required information fields listed, excess emails or texts are eliminated and communication becomes more efficient. In fact, research from strategic advisory service Hackett Group showed that “the most efficiently run IT departments spend 21% less per user than typical companies and rely on 8% fewer staff.” 2. Track IT Expenses When projects are tracked and segmented, it makes finding those critical budget leaks much easier. The same thing applies to your IT department. Creating an app that tracks the time spent on specific assignments can help to pinpoint the inefficiencies in your network or program. For example, if a programmer keeps getting contacted by your employees to fix the same problem over and over, maybe it’s time to invest in new, updated software to save on overall long-term IT costs. 3. IT Manual Many times your IT department is probably overburdened with the same basic questions: Why can’t I connect to the Internet? Why is my computer running so slow? How do I do ____________ function? How do I backup my files in the cloud? While it may take a few hours to write answers to the most common questions, it can save you immeasurable time and money in the end by using a simple app creator to create an IT manual. You can list the issues by topic and then fill in step-by-step actions to take with screenshots to make the process easier. See AppSheet’s New Employee Set Up app as a good place to start. 4. Low Cost Customized Apps (Without an IT Department) According to Calcote Laramie, professional business advisor, these are the average costs to make an iOS or Android App from the top app development companies in the world: Hyperlink Infosystem: $7,000 to $30,000 Fueled: $100,000 to $300,000 Dom & Tom: $80,000 to $150,000 Softway Solutions: $100,000 to $250,000 Plastic mobile: $110,000 to $300,000 For just a fraction of these costs, anyone on your staff can create a customized app for the variety of purposes that your company needs. App builders are low cost, simplified and instead of complicated wire frames and coding, they can be uploaded using common cloud platform databases. Cutting costs doesn’t mean cutting functionality, quality or performance. Implementing the right apps can help you to manage your company, your budget, and your progress for the New Year.

6 Handy Apps to Help Real Estate Agents Make That Sale

Real estate can be a tricky business, and it is often dependent upon factors outside of human control. House hunters can be swayed by weather, location, or a lack of information at the moment of decision-making. Mobile apps can give realtors a leg-up when it comes to making that all-important sale by allowing them to have imperative information available at their fingertips. Brokers can be hampered when their customers are not able to get in contact with the right person or when information is not readily available. Mobile apps can help brokers list properties, manage appointments and schedules, search for related property information like school districts, local attractions, average fuel bills and more. They can even help them check the weather to schedule the most advantageous showing times. The Apps We’ve pulled together a list of apps that can boost realtors’ efficiency and help them seal the deal: Magic Plan: This app allows users to create a floor plan drawing within minutes, which means realtors can provide this added information to prospective buyers. MagicPlan measures a floor plan from photos you take, and converts them into a PDF, HPG, and DXF drawing. Users can simply add objects, annotations, photos and attributes to generate reports or complete estimates. Zillow: This is a multi-use platform, mainly used for property search. With a number of robust search filters and extra features (mortgage calculators, access to “hidden” inventory, property estimates), the site offers a good overview of the real estate market and available properties. Many listings include MLS  numbers in order to facilitate your search. Mortgage Calculator: This easy-to-use tool helps clients project the repayment requirements of a potential mortgage. It factors in a series of parameters to provide the most accurate results, and can project monthly or bi-weekly mortgage payments and the future payoff date. Periscope: A platform that allows users to stream live videos from anywhere,Periscope is a ‘visual pulse of what’s happening right now‘. It lets you ‘discover the world through someone else’s eyes‘. Periscope is a great way to connect with potential clients across town or across the world. Stream open house tours, home sneak peeks, local events, or a Q&A session. Home Inspector: This AppSheet sample app allows users to record information about houses, adding up to four images to a room using direct capture images straight from the app. The spreadsheet allows the user to add columns to include additional information regarding the properties in question. It is an excellent resource for real estate inspections and surveys. You can start with this sample and build your own app with robust custom features. Realtor: This AppSheet app lets realtors share real-estate information with their clients, displaying various listings on a map with a gallery of photos for each available property. The list view can also group listings by categories to match client needs.  It includes the potential to show a filtered view of listings by client and realtors can also use their external listing images on services like Zillow as images in the app. Use this sample app to build your own custom real estate listing solution. AppSheet Creates Custom Solutions For You AppSheet can help you develop the right apps to make your job a little easier. From GPS-enabled property locators to calculating mortgage payments, AppSheet can design a custom app to do just what you need to close the deal. “This is the app I’ve spent years searching for,” asserts Kurt Beard, Cardinal Properties. “It’s straightforward to use with multiple outstanding features; taking mobile photos right in the app, search, multiple tables, and more. My boss is very excited with the workflow improvement we’ve seen since AppSheet.”

How to Build an App to Manage Your Event

From conferences, open houses and fundraisers to weddings, birthday parties, and holiday get togethers, events take a ton of planning. You may be the event coordinator for your organization or you just throw a killer family gathering, but you still need to stay on budget, keep to a timeline, order decorations, and keep track of so much more. An app maker can help you to create stellar events while minimizing stress. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Timelines and To-Do Lists Making a timeline is a simple but detailed process. Set the date and work backwards on an excel spreadsheet inputting the tasks that need to be completed. From there you can go step-by-step as to when to meet with the caterer and facilities manager, the drop date for invitations, when materials need to be dropped off and picked up from the printers, etc. This also helps you to create a to-do list for the many parts of this massive machine. The same basic principle works for the day of event timeline; determine when the facility opens, when the event should finish, and fill in the gaps with vendor arrival times, volunteer arrival times, and when the doors open. The event itself should also have a specific timeline including program opening remarks, your video presentation, guest speaker’s address, donor acknowledgements and anything else on the program. This will keep you on target for the duration of the event and will keep things moving to prevent your guests from being bored. “When you decide to have an event, everything matters. From program content and lighting to transportation and parking — everything counts. And your audience will attribute everything to you and…your brand.  Making a list will ensure you don’t overlook things,” recommends marketing coordinator Jamillah Warner. Budget A mobile app can help you to stay on budget as you shop around town to meet with a florist, get quotes on programs, menus or posters, pick out decor, or taste test the caterer’s delectables. A calculator add- on can assist you to stay within your budget if one area goes over and you need to deduct funds from another category. Idea List Between Pinterest, Etsy, and tons of other decorating sites, there is unlimited inspiration available. Keep your favorite ideas all in one place by uploading pictures to your customized app. This can also be helpful for your set-up committee; showing them examples of how tables should be set or how the decorations should be assembled can take more tasks off of your to-do list. Contacts and Committees Lists Many times it takes an army to put on a large event and a contact directory app can be priceless. You can have volunteer lists broken down by job and include contact information including the aforementioned caterers, florists, printers, rental companies, guest speaker, facilities manager, AV company... and you’ll want them all to be on the same page. “Pre-planning is everything, so consider having a meeting with all of your vendors prior to your event so you can hash out every small detail before it’s go-time.  It’s the perfect opportunity to talk over a timeline and get everyone on the same page,” suggests Festivities Catering.  You’ll want these all in one app location the day of the event in case a vendor doesn’t show up on time, if your guest list changes, or for any potential problems that may (and usually do) arise. Email Notifications This app is perfect for large teams where the event planner has to keep track of various members in charge of different jobs at off site locations. With a simple form, you can request updates on whether the job was completed, when it was completed, if there are any questions or comments, time spent, money spent, or any other specific details that the team needs to track. Lead Tracking The primary purpose of most of these types of events is to meet new potential clients or donors, grab their information, and make a great impression. With the right apps already on your phone you can add contact information, personal notes, products or services they want more info on, secure a future meeting date, or process a  donation (for nonprofits) via an order capture feature.  Before you even attend your event, you should have a plan in place on how you want to follow-up with the attendees. This will guide you on capturing the right information and photos to continue the relationship. Randy Hawthorne, publisher and executive director for Nonprofit Hub advises, “Long before your event even comes around, you’ll want to develop a follow-up plan that allows you to connect with every attendee, thanking them for coming and giving them another opportunity for engagement. Your plan could include several components, including follow-up calls, handwritten thank-yous, an email blast, posting event pictures on your social media pages or highlighting an event video on your website. Whatever you do, be sure to stay in touch with the people you just hosted. Leverage the wave of interest and excitement about your organization as much as possible.” Events take an immense investment in time, planning and manpower, but staying organized and creating a detailed strategy with customized apps can help you to plan a successful, memorable, and enjoyable event.

The Best Corporate Apps And Why They Work

With mobile devices now a focal point in business, our professional lives have been invaded by the ever present smart device. The emergence of utility and productivity apps, tools, games and endless types of pursuits, have unleashed a generation of workers who are inclined towards a digital lifestyle. It always helps to learn from the best in the business. Enterprises are capitalizing on the mobile app phenomenon by building innovative apps to communicate with their staff and to enable them to work anytime, anywhere. As more and more businesses use enterprise mobility apps to complement their core business, the use of corporate apps will continue to grow. This means more opportunities for mobile app developers and cross platform mobile development experts to test their ideas, skills, and creativity to find their niche in this thriving marketplace. According to research firm Gartner, by 2017 the demand for such development will increase five times faster than companies and IT departments can keep pace with. With mobile phone sales expected to reach 2.1 billion units in 2019, it will fuel demand for enterprise mobile apps that are just as useful and popular as consumer apps. We look at reasons why. Customized to business needs Corporate apps are customized to an organization’s core business needs and there are several use cases, for example, such as helping its field sales and marketing teams effectively present solutions to customers. They also enable staff on the go to access the latest product brochures or information where document management and distribution platforms make sure that employees have up-to-date information when they need it. There is no need to share multiple versions of files and to look for misplaced documents. Staff can gather information from customers and prospects and enter this data into the corporate or customer relationship management databases efficiently. This saves workers time and ensures that they stay in the loop. Train and develop anywhere, anytime Such apps deliver learning content to their workers on the go. They are interactive, up-to-date and enable workers to sign up for courses online. This way, employees can learn anytime, anywhere and at their own pace. Workers can also keep up to date with company news and industry developments. Employee engagement Employees are already having to pay attention to the emails they get on a daily basis from their co-workers and external customers. A corporate app should not add to this burden. Do keep in mind the following suggestions when building a corporate app: Consider the group of employees you are designing the app for. When creating a product for the public at large, the first step is to consider your audience. The same goes for the corporate app. Talk to your staff and find out about the culture of the department, get their feedback and find out what they actually need. It may sound simple to say but until you actually talk to the people who are actually doing the job day in and day out, creating an app you think may help them, may not actually address their needs. Build engagement with your employees. If your staff find the apps useful and understand that these will help to make their lives easier, they will want to adopt this into their daily work routine. The lives of employees hang on their mobile devices. A good suggestion, at this point, would be to incorporate location services and image capabilities to connect staff and share information more efficiently. Include a variety of media such as interactive, videos and embedded documents. This level of interactivity engages staff, enabling them to be more productive. The best corporate apps work because they enable organizations to engage their employees and to bring productivity increases and faster business processes. The bigger picture is that the organization gains insights (through analytics and such software) into the work habits of its employees, which in the long term, will enable it to fine-tune business processes for greater productivity and rewards. Do your employees work in the field? Give them offline access. Keep apps up-to-date so that the latest information and documents can be distributed to the work force so as to ensure that everyone is working on the same digital page. Nothing is more frustrating than spending time working on outdated documents or data.

How Safe is the Internet Cloud for My Business App

What exactly is the Internet cloud? We all use it, our businesses depend on it, and our apps are stored on it. But here’s the thing: we’ve also heard about hackers stealing valuable information off the Internet or of the incident where a laptop is stolen and all of the information on it was breached. Since SaaS services and cloud-based applications are such an important part of both our business and social lives, here are some important facts that you should know. First of all, the Internet and the cloud are basically the same thing. You pretty much don’t use one without using the other. For example, let’s say you tap into Google’s variety of services like Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Gmail, Google+, and Hangouts. All of these tools are accessed on the Internet and stored in the cloud. The reason this technological advancement has revolutionized the way we do business is because: a) it eliminates the cost of expensive hardware, b) small businesses don’t need a tech department when implementing a cloud platform, c) it provides mobility when the documents are accessible from any device, and d) there are limitless possibilities if you consider the millions of app choices available for both business and leisure. However, many instances have been reported about hackers breaking into mega corporations and even into government servers to steal valuable information. Let’s face it, if Target, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Sony, and Ebay were all victims within last couple of years with all of billion dollar tech support, is your information just as vulnerable? Actually, no. There are many precautions that you can take to ensure that your information is safe and here are a few: Secure Your Hardware   If you lose your phone or mobile device, this could mean that the information that you access can easily be obtained. Many times we have password reminders in place or passwords that can be simply cracked leaving all of that customer information wide open. Many people also use the same password for multiple accounts because it’s quite a feat to remember one for every website we use. To make sure your hardware is safe, educate your employees on protecting data, remove passwords that are saved, and make passwords longer with more symbols or caps in it. Also, research to see if your smartphone provider has “remote wipe” capabilities which erases data on stolen or lost devices. Updated Software Hackers are smart and are constantly finding new ways to break into user accounts. Fortunately, software and cloud platform providers hire vast teams of developers to protect against this. George Cox advises on The Spectrum to, “Update your operating system and other software frequently, if not automatically. This keeps hackers from accessing your computer through vulnerabilities in outdated programs. For extra protection, enable Microsoft product updates so that the Office Suite will be updated at the same time. Consider retiring particularly susceptible software such as old versions of Java or Flash.” Private vs. Public vs. Hybrid Depending on your industry and the sensitivity of your information, you can choose the type of cloud that you use. Public clouds include Google, DropBox, Microsoft Azure, or Apple’s iCloud. These are maintained by a PaaS company and provide shared clouds for general information. For sensitive data, a private cloud is more expensive since it is customized for your business and serves only your company. This obviously requires tech support beyond what a public cloud offers. Finally, hybrid clouds offer the best of both worlds. You get the the accessibility and efficiency of the public cloud with the security of a private cloud. Encryption The more roadblocks you have in your software the harder it is to crack, so encryption is a vital part of cloud protection. For even more security, there are SaaS companies that provide that extra measure of insurance to guard your data. “There are some cloud services that provide local encryption and decryption of your files in addition to storage and backup. It means that the service takes care of both encrypting your files on your own computer and storing them safely on the cloud,” explains Victoria Ivey on CIO.com. Precautions for App Tools We’ve all heard about the risks of tapping into public WiFi accounts and how thieves can steal credit information just by scanning a card in passing. While many businesses use app tools such as credit card payments or GPS maps, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. “Organizations should adapt an approach of risk-aware transaction execution that restricts client-side functionality based on policies that consider mobile risk factors such as device security attributes, user location, and the security of the network connection, among others,” reports Yishay Yovel on Security Intelligence.   Overall, most data and mobile apps are quite safe in the cloud because they implement trusted cloud platforms whose reputations rely on being secure. The capabilities far outweigh the risks if you apply these added precautions.

What Do the Best Apps Have in Common?

The great thing about so many apps being out on the market is that you can learn from the many who have gone before you. It’s like the wheel has been invented and you just need to focus on customizing it to make it go faster, run smoother, and improve it so you can arrive at your specific goal. With free apps builders, you can certainly see what other apps are offering and take their examples to make your own personalized tool. Consider these features that popular apps have in common to make the best app for your specific needs. 1. Work In Shorthand Apps are used on mobile devices which are not convenient for lengthy data inputting. Evernote is one great example to follow; when inspiration hits and you want to take a picture or if you’re running errands and need to make a quick list, you can easily capture these thoughts and move on to your next task. Premade checklists, abbreviations, yes or no surveys, and easy-to-use buttons make apps quick, easy and more likely to be utilized. 2. Team Communication If no man is an island, then apps are the cruise liners that connect your workforce. “When the internal forces of a business are working toward communicating the same message to vendors, suppliers and customers, good communication can also lead to a boost in sales for the business,” observes Kristie Lorette in the Houston Chronicle.  “Essentially, good communication creates a win-win situation. The customers who can benefit from the company receive the messages they need to make them aware of the company and to make a purchase, which in turn boosts the sales of the company.” Apps that keeps employees and management connected know the right questions to ask, the appropriate answers to give and keep the team well-informed to provide optimal customer experience. Well-known project-management app Basecamp is a great example of opening the lines of communication so that projects stay on time. 3. Organization Your businesses’ future relies on being organized. For example, customer relationship management (CRM) is a necessary task that can be overwhelming and time-consuming. If you are creating a lead tracking app, it’s important to keep all of your information in one place. Streak allows you to keep track of where you are in your business relationship rather than organizing customers by contact name. The best apps keep your information organized, logical, and easy to interpret for group accessibility. 4. Simplicity “I want to read directions,” said no one ever. This is especially true when it comes to apps. Afterall, mobile apps were built for speed, mobility, and simplicity. Facebook’s Messenger app was one of the top apps of 2016 with more than 136 million active monthly users. YouTube came in at a whopping 134 million. Chances are, you have used one of these apps and found they were self-explanatory. The best apps are user-friendly and ready to go. 5. Synchronization Every business or even individual accesses a variety of technology platforms each day. From social media to emails to spreadsheets, we are inundated with information. Great apps work with the tools that we already use and that have proven their worth. AppSheet is a great example. You can import the spreadsheets you already use with software from Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and more to create customized apps to manage your mobile employees. Like any product, the best apps fill a need and do it well. The best part about mobile app makers is that you can create your own apps. No one knows your needs like you do and no one knows how to solve them like you can. Seeing what’s available and incorporating the most useful tools can guide you as you create your perfect app.

With 80% Of Purchases Now Influenced By Mobile, Your Business Needs To Meet Demands

Increasingly, your customers, employees and service users expect a fast and intuitive mobile experience. Eighty percent of purchases are now influenced by mobile. If you fail to meet these expectations, users will quickly turn away. Meeting expanding customer expectations Research demonstrates that 62 percent of consumers expect a mobile friendly website, while 42 percent expect a mobile app, and 23 percent expect a location specific contextual experience.  Further, 86 percent favor mobile apps over mobile websites, and with 80 percent of purchases now influenced by the mobile channel for a projected $689 billion influence on sales, your business cannot afford to be left behind when it comes to mobile. A 2015 AppDynamics report An App Is Not Enough  found that consumer expectations of retail websites and mobile apps are evolving in response to the growth of mobile and emerging technologies, with 70 percent of consumers stating that the performance of a mobile app impacts their perception of the retailer. Further, two thirds of consumers said they would reconsider shopping with a retailer if they had a negative experience with its app. That places greater pressure on brands to deliver flawless app performance to keep their customers happy. “As the lines between work and personal, digital and physical, continue to blur, retailers must ensure their apps function at all times across multiple platforms in order to retain and nurture always-on consumers,” said Jyoti Bansal, founder and CEO of AppDynamics. “Technology has transformed the retail landscape significantly over the past decade, and now more than ever, software defines business success – with revenue and reputation often hinging on customer interactions with apps.” Providing seamless cross-channel experiences “Today’s consumers expect a seamless shopping experience across online and offline channels, with minimal friction points,” said Paul Hobbs, head of e-commerce at Shop Direct. “This puts increased pressure on retailers to innovate, using the latest technologies to improve and augment the online e-commerce journey so it delivers the thrill of visiting the high street in a more convenient way. As an example, Very.com has recently introduced image recognition technology that allows shoppers to take photos of clothes they like and search for similar styles across the brand’s product range.” “At the same time, mobile continues to play an integral role in increasing online sales – allowing consumers to shop when they want, how they want, and on any device,” Hobbs continued. “With retailers using a combination of technologies to deliver a competitive and flawless experience to shoppers, ensuring the performance of these applications is mission-critical.” Tips For Creating A Top Mobile Experience There were 2.1 billion mobile phones and tablets sold around the world in 2014, and by 2020 there will be a projected 200 billion connected devices. Here are some tips to help create a successful mobile experience that is fast, intuitive, and satisfies the demands of your customers. Start with a clear mobile strategy that aligns all internal stakeholders. Identify the user journey, defining the phases of their experiences from beginning to end to understand their context. Build personals and clearly identify your audience. Clearly define business goals that you are trying to achieve via the app. Is it boosting loyalty, sales conversions or recommendations? Identify the analytics to track and drive feature prioritization to ensure you are meeting your established business goals. Set a feature roadmap. This helps create the optimal user experience. Build with iterative development that connects all internal and external data points. Once your app is complete, don’t forget to use analytics to track and improve your app continually to ensure continued user satisfaction and cohesion to business goals. From beginning to end, the process of bringing your mobile app to life should be thoughtful, calculated, and specific,  tailored to your audience and  your business’ goals. AppSheet can help your business create simple, user-friendly mobile apps that are customized to meet your specific goals.

5 Tips to Protect Your Consumers and Provide App Credibility

Cyber security is a huge concern for both business owners and customers alike. From compromising your financial accounts to tarnishing the faith your clients have in your business, Internet criminals can cause immeasurable harm to those they target. While we have all heard the news stories about online hackers, fake apps are entering the scene as the next trend in technology-based fraud. “Apple’s App Store and Google Play have witnessed a recent surge in counterfeit retail apps that impersonate well-known retailers such as Zappos, Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Foot Locker, Dollar Tree, Payless ShoeSource and others,” reports Mahsa Saeidi of KTNV in Nevada. “Counterfeit apps can steal credit card or banking information and can access users’ social media accounts. Some fraudulent apps install malware onto users’ smartphones and can even lock a user’s phone and demand a fee to unlock the device.” However, there are several things that you can do to protect your customers as you incorporate apps into your management and marketing strategies. 1. Create Impeccable Content and Design Elements Fake apps are usually made and posted quickly because of their short lifespans; they are usually reported soon after the customer realizes the scam and then taken down by Apple or Android store security. These shady developers repeat this endless process to find the next victims. If you are making your company’s app, review your content for spelling and punctuation errors. Many fake apps are also made in other countries (the largest producer being in China as reported in The New York Times) therefore non-native speakers are creating less than fluent text. Moreover, fraudulent apps copy and paste logos or products from legitimate websites creating images that are more pixelated than the original version or the colors may be off. This can be a clear indicator that the app is a knock-off, so make sure that your app's branding features have high quality graphics and align with your branding specifications. 2. Provide Company Information If you are distributing your app to customers, make sure you have your company web address, phone number, and physical address listed so that they can contact you for reassurance that you are a real company. Better yet, if you have a physical storefront you can create a tab like “Find Me!” that links to Google Maps for directions. 3. Post Reviews in the App Store or Google Play Store Maybe you’ve created an app and want to sell it through Apple or Google’s app stores. Reviews not only help you to better refine your product, but they also bring legitimacy and assurance to your app customers. Moreover, these platforms require publisher information and website links, so create content that builds confidence. Encourage your customers to review your app if they like it; positive reviews can help differentiate your apps from the imposters. Reporter Vindu Goel of The New York Times explains, “Data from Apptopia show that some of the fake apps have been downloaded thousands of times, although it is unclear how many people have actually used them. Reviews posted on some of the apps indicated that at least some people tried them and became frustrated. ‘Would give zero stars if possible,’ wrote one reviewer of the fake Dollar Tree app. ‘Constantly gets stuck in menus and closes what you were doing and makes you start over.’” 4. Establish Online and Offline Security Options If you have a brick and mortar store, show pics and links to confirm an app is yours. On your website, you can have pictures of your app and links to it. Customers can compare the app to the information provided to know that their orders are on a secure site. However, if they don’t feel comfortable inputting credit card information on an app, they can easily call your company or refer back to your website to complete the transaction. 5. Open the Lines of Communication If a breach in security or copycat app does compromise your company, have a plan of action in place. Cybercrime poses a continual threat, but you CAN do something about it like reporting app scams to the Apple store or alerting your customers to the potential threat. Transparency with your audience is key as you rebuild trust and your new online presence.

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